Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait
fixes its gaze on writers as we seldom see them. These photographs, and the stories that accompany them, were captured where the writers live, work, or play. The result is a series of portraits that take us inside writers’ lives and inside the process of making portraits—all served with a touch of refined literary gossip.
These are writers unplugged. Not from their word processors but from centuries of visual cliché.
Through his own work as a writer, editor, and photographer, Terence Byrnes came to know and to photograph writers at every stage of their careers. For ten years, he photographed them in places where they felt at home, but not always at ease. “Most contemporary literary portraits,” Byrnes says, “are as highly burnished as Playboy nudes or as homespun as family snapshots. When I made these images, I was an interloper the writers had to react to.”
In an introductory essay, Byrnes takes a fascinating tour through the history of the author portrait, from the seventh-century scribe, Ezra, to the contemporary literary agency that warns potential clients that their author portrait, not their writing, is the most important career decision they will ever make.